Fantasy football position rankings: Wide receivers

There are just two weekends left before the NFL starts the regular season. Thousands of fantasy football leagues will be drafting soon. Through Saturday I’ll share my rankings for each position. I started with quarterbacks Tuesday, followed by running backs Wednesday. Wide receivers are up next with tight ends and defenses to follow. This year I’ve added tiers to better help you prepare for your draft.

RELATED: Fantasy football rankings: Top 250.

Wide receivers

Tier 1

Not a lot to say here. Antonio Brown is at the top of his game and was just a single touchdown shy of scoring at least 10 for four straight years last season. He’s on a streak of five years in a row of gaining more than 1,200 yards. You should draft a consistent, high-scoring, can’t-miss player in the top five and Brown can be that player. Drafting him is like taking a stud running back.

1. Antonio Brown, PIT

Tier 2

With DeShaun Watson returning from injury, the sky is the limit for DeAndre Hopkins. He’s scored 28 touchdowns over the last three seasons, including 13 last year. Hopkins may not match his touchdown figure from last season, but his career average is 7.2 per season. He had just two his rookie year. Another important factor is Hopkins’ durability. He’s missed just one game in his five years. Another player who needs to stay healthy is Odell Beckham Jr. He played in just four games last season after gaining at least 1,300 yards while scoring at least 10 touchdowns in each of his first three seasons.

2. DeAndre Hopkins, HOU
3. Odell Beckham Jr., NYG
4. Julio Jones, ATL

Tier 3

He doesn’t wow you, but Michael Thomas is a consistent contributor with a high minimum expectations. He’s gained at least 1,100 yards in each of his first two seasons. Despite the Saints taking on a run-centered offense last season, Thomas was still a big part of the game plan. He was targeted at least eight times in 14 of 16 games last year and at least five times in every single game. This group also has Keenan Allen and Davante Adams, of the Chargers and Packers. The Chargers offense has found something and Allen is a big part of their success. Adams is the No. 1 receiver for Aaron Rodgers.

5. Michael Thomas, NO
6. Keenan Allen, LAC
7. Davante Adams, GB

Tier 4

The biggest problem with A.J. Green has nothing to do with A.J. Green. It’s his quarterback and the protection his quarterback receives. Despite a bad season for the Bengals last year, Green still gained over 1,000 yards and scored eight touchdowns. He’s farther down the list than usual, but he actually may end up being a value as the eighth receiver off the board. Also in this tier is a pair of Vikings receivers. I think Adam Thielen is the better of the two, but Stefon Diggs also has the potential to be a top-5 receiver. His biggest issue is he hasn’t played an entire season in his three-year career.

8. A.J. Green, CIN
9. Adam Thielen, MIN
10. T.Y. Hilton, IND
11. Stefon Diggs, MIN
12. Mike Evans, TB

Tier 5

Larry Fitzgerald will be a first-ballot Hall of Famer, but he’s not quite done yet. He’s been great ever since moving to the slot receiver spot. Sam Bradford is the new quarterback for the Cardinals and he’s very accurate on short routes, a strength of Fitzgerald. Someone you shouldn’t forget about in this group is Amari Cooper. He’s had his issues, but the talent is undeniable. Michael Crabtree is gone, but Jordy Nelson is in town now. Cooper should be the No. 1 and I think he bounces back from a 680-yard 2017 season. He’s better than that and he should show it.

13. Larry Fitzgerald, ARI
14. Amari Cooper, OAK
15. Doug Baldwin, SEA
16. Tyreek Hill, KC

Tier 6

I’ve bought in when it comes to JuJu Smith-Schuster. He can make the big play and should assert himself as the second wideout option for the Steelers. Smith-Schuster was targeted at least six times in each of the last seven games last year. In his final three games he had long receptions of 69, 49 and 46 yards. Smith-Schuster’s long reception of the season was a 97-yard score. The Lions receivers are also in this group. Marvin Jones is the big-play receiver while Golden Tate is the possession guy. Matthew Stafford should have a good year throwing to both.

17. JuJu Smith-Schuster, PIT
18. Marvin Jones, DET
19. Golden Tate, DET
20. Demaryius Thomas, DEN

Tier 7

Jarvis Landry has a new home and he should be effective enough to provide value as a WR2. Tyrod Taylor is definitely an upgrade from the quarterbacks Landry had last season in Miami. He caught 112 passes last season but failed to eclipse 1,000 yards. He scored nine times, however, making him a solid receiver for fantasy squads. His new teammate Josh Gordon is also in this tier. It’s a bit risky having him here, but I’ve got faith he’ll start the season. Corey Davis could have a breakout year for the Titans in their new offense.

21. Jarvis Landry, CLE
22. Brandin Cooks, LAR
23. Allen Robinson, CHI
24. Corey Davis, TEN
25. Josh Gordon, CLE

Tier 8

If it looks like Alshon Jeffery will miss time, I’m dropping him out of this tier. It may be safer to take him as a third receiver. Someone I have more confidence in is Marquise Goodwin. He had his most productive weeks last season when Jimmy Garoppolo took over the starting quarterback job. Goodwin isn’t just going deep, utilizing his world class speed. He makes catches in all areas of the field.

26. Alshon Jeffery, PHI
27. Marquise Goodwin, SF
28. Robby Anderson, NYJ
29. Cooper Kupp, LAR
30. Emmanuel Sanders, DEN
31. Chris Hogan, NE

Tier 9

Sammy Watkins leads this tier, but we’re at the point in which the guy on the bottom of the tier could end up being the best of the bunch. Watkins will have to get comfortable with Pat Mahomes. Another receiver who will have to adjust to a new quarterback is Allen Hurns. Dak Prescott needs a good running game and the threat of play action in order to be successful. If the Cowboys look like they did in 2016, Hurns could be a great value as the team’s No. 1 receiver drafted late.

32. Sammy Watkins, KC
33. Pierre Garcon, SF
34. Allen Hurns, DAL
35. Sterling Shepard, NYG
36. Robert Woods, LAR
37. Michael Crabtree, BAL

Tier 10

I really like Kenny Stills where he’s getting drafted. He’s put up solid numbers in two straight years with Jarvis Landry leading the way. Landry’s now in Cleveland and DeVante Parker doesn’t inspire confidence. I think Stills ends up being the top wideout in Miami this season. One other guy to watch is Nelson Agholor, especially if Jeffery doesn’t start the season due to injury.

38. Kenny Stills, MIA
39. Randall Cobb, GB
40. Jamison Crowder, WAS
41. Nelson Agholor, PHI
42. Kelvin Benjamin, BUF
43. Devin Funchess, CAR
44. Will Fuller, HOU
45. DeVante Parker, MIA

Tier 11

If you can get a projected No. 1 receiver in the 13th round of your draft, it would be smart to draft him. People were down on Blake Bortles last season, and rightly so, but he had a strong finish. Marqise Lee is the veteran wide receiver for the Jaguars and you could do worse this late in the draft. I also like John Brown and Mike Williams in this group. Brown could surprise and become the best target in Baltimore if he outperforms Michael Crabtree. Williams can be a red zone target with his size in an effort to replace Antonio Gates and Hunter Henry.

46. Mike Williams, LAC
47. Marqise Lee, JAC
48. D.J. Moore, CAR
49. Jordy Nelson, OAK
50. Kenny Golladay, DET
51. DeSean Jackson, TB
52. Rishard Matthews, TEN
53. Julian Edelman, NE
54. John Brown, BAL

Tier 12

With the Chargers offense expected to pick up where they left off, Tyrell Williams could prove to be a decent flex option. He’s a deep threat that could help you out when the Chargers face a soft defensive backfield. You could also find some production out of Calvin Ridley, the Falcons rookie that had a nice game in the second week of preseason. With Julio Jones taking most of the attention, Ridley and Mohamed Sanu could benefit.

55. Tyrell Williams, LAC
56. Paul Richardson, WAS
57. Josh Doctson, WAS
58. Calvin Ridley, ATL
59. Dede Westbrook, JAC
60. Mohamed Sanu, ATL
61. Chris Godwin, TB
62. Tyler Lockett, SEA
63. Cameron Meredith, NO
64. Ted Ginn, NO
65. Quincy Enunwa, NYJ
66. Donte Moncrief, JAC

Tier 13

This tier has a lot of talent that just needs some things fall in the right way. Martavis Bryant is likely the third option on the Raiders, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he put up a big game every now and then. Same goes for Taywan Taylor, who scored on a quick pass and a long run in the second week of preseason. Christian Kirk looks like he could compete for the No. 2 spot in Arizona behind Larry Fitzgerald.

67. Martavis Bryant, OAK
68. John Ross, CIN
69. Taywan Taylor, TEN
70. Jermaine Kearse, NYJ
71. Cole Beasley, DAL
72. Geronimo Allison, GB
73. Ryan Grant, IND
74. Terrance Williams, DAL
75. Danny Amendola, MIA
76. Albert Wilson, MIA
77. Christian Kirk, ARI
78. Mike Wallace, PHI
79. Michael Gallup, DAL
80. Dante Pettis, SF

Tier 14

I’d love to take a flier on James Washington. The rookie has a real shot to contribute early.

81. Anthony Miller, CHI
82. Chad Williams, ARI
83. Brandon Marshall, SEA
84. Terrelle Pryor, NYJ
85. Keelan Cole, JAC
86. James Washington, PIT

Contact Cat Vasquez at 512-445-3677. Email cvasquez@statesman.com. Twitter @AAS_Cat.

2017 fantasy football position rankings: Wide Receivers

Continuing our series of position rankings for the upcoming 2017 fantasy football season, we’ll take a look at wide receivers before turning to tight ends next week. We’ve ranked the QBs 1-32 and running backs from 1 to 36. We’ll rank the wide receivers 1-36 and the tight ends 1-24. Defenses and kickers will be ranked 1-12.

While there are tiers at every position, knowing them at the wide receiver spot is especially important. What’s nice about this season is that there appears to be a tier of five receivers at the top. A case could be made that any one of the first five in this list could be the No. 1 wideout by season’s end.

1. Antonio Brown, Steelers—His consistency has been rewarded this offseason with a new five-year contract. The last four years have been money in the bank for fantasy owners. Though Ben Roethlisberger toyed with the idea of retirement, he’ll be back, ensuring Brown should shine again this season.

Antonio Brown #84 of the Pittsburg Steelers runs with the ball against the Cincinnati Benglas at Paul Brown Stadium on January 9, 2016 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Antonio Brown #84 of the Pittsburg Steelers runs with the ball against the Cincinnati Benglas at Paul Brown Stadium on January 9, 2016 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

2. Julio Jones, Falcons—Though he lost Kyle Shanahan to the 49ers, Jones should continue to put up numbers we’re used to seeing. A balanced offense opens things up for receivers and the duo in his backfield takes off some pressure. He’s averaged 108 catches, 1,624 yards and 7 touchdowns over the last three seasons.

3. Odell Beckham Jr., Giants—The addition of Brandon Marshall could make the Giants’ offense very potent in the air. The Giants’ running backs are suited for the passing game and I’d expect Eli to continue to air it out. No need to fear a drop in targets for Beckham.

4. Mike Evans, Buccaneers—His 96 catches last season were a career high, and though DeSean Jackson has been added to the mix, it’s clear that Evans is the top dog. Playing alongside Jackson, rather than being the only target in town, could end up yielding bigger numbers in the end.

5. A.J. Green, Bengals—I consider Green to be in the top tier of receivers. Andy Dalton doesn’t get a lot of respect in terms of fantasy, but he’s not bad at all. Green is also coming off a season in which he tore his hamstring, but don’t get scared off. He’s missed just 10 games in six season.

A.J. Green #18 of the Cincinnati Bengals catches a touchdown over Darrelle Revis #24 of the New York Jets during their game at MetLife Stadium on September 11, 2016 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
A.J. Green #18 of the Cincinnati Bengals catches a touchdown over Darrelle Revis #24 of the New York Jets during their game at MetLife Stadium on September 11, 2016 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

6. Jordy Nelson, Packers—Is he relatively healthy? Yes. Is Aaron Rodgers still his quarterback? Yes. Does that mean he’ll still be very productive? Yes. Nelson has 27 touchdowns in the last three years. He didn’t play in 2015. Let that sink in.

7. Michael Thomas, Saints—Through eight games last season Thomas already had five touchdowns and it was clear that he was quickly becoming the No. 2 receiver behind Brandin Cooks. Well, Cooks is now in New England so that makes Thomas a popular pick to take a step up.

8. Dez Bryant, Cowboys—Dak Prescott didn’t know he’d be starting for the Cowboys until Tony Romo went down in the preseason last year. Prescott will have an entire offseason to work with his receivers this time around. Improving his rapport with Bryant will help both players rise in value.

Dez Bryant #88 of the Dallas Cowboys dives for the end zone to score a touchdown after catching a pass from Dak Prescott during the third quarter against the Baltimore Ravens at AT&T Stadium on November 20, 2016 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

9. Brandin Cooks, Patriots—Having Cooks in my top-10 of wide receivers is a statement about Tom Brady as a quarterback more than anything. If Cooks keeps his head on straight and learns the Patriots’ offense, Brady will make sure to utilize the talented burner.

10. DeAndre Hopkins, Texans—I overvalued him last season, but Brock Osweiler has left town and the Texans have a new quarterback that may be ready to start before too long. Even if Tom Savage holds off rookie DeShaun Watson, Hopkins has the talent and opportunity to put up big numbers.

11. Amari Cooper, Raiders—He’s been targeted over 130 times, topped 1,000 yards and scored at least five touchdowns in each of his first two seasons. If Derek Carr can learn to treat Cooper like the play-maker he is near the red zone, Cooper could be special.

Amari Cooper had a great game the last time he faced the Chargers. (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)
Amari Cooper has been a top wideout in his first three years in the league. (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)

12. T.Y. Hilton, Colts—With the Colts drafting offensive line help, Hilton becomes more likely to get more work. Andrew Luck just needs time in the pocket to make defenses pay and Hilton should remain a WR1 as a result.

13. Doug Baldwin, Seahawks

14. Davante Adams, Packers

15. Alshon Jeffery, Eagles

16. Allen Robinson, Jaguars

17. Sammy Watkins, Bills

18. Demaryius Thomas, Broncos

19. Tyreek Hill, Chiefs

20. Keenan Allen, Chargers

21. Michael Crabtree, Raiders

22. Terrelle Pryor Sr., Redskins

23. Jarvis Landry, Dolphins

24. Brandon Marshall, Giants

25. Martavis Bryant, Steelers

26. Julian Edelman, Patriots

27. Donte Moncrief, Colts

28. Kelvin Benjamin, Panthers

29. Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals

30. Emmanuel Sanders, Broncos

31. Jamison Crowder, Redskins

32. Golden Tate, Lions

33. Rishard Matthews, Titans

34. DeSean Jackson, Buccaneers

35. Stefon Diggs, Vikings

36. Willie Snead, Saints